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Acrimonious - Eleven Dragons

Acrimonious
Eleven Dragons
by Anna Chase at 25 June 2017, 3:31 PM

I’ve had kind of a lifelong love-hate relationship with Black Metal. When it’s done well, it’s done very, very well, but when it’s not executed properly, it can just sound like haphazard noise. That’s why it’s one of the riskiest genres to try to make your way into as a new band. Black Metal purists are loyal to their roots in classics like MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE, and CARPATHIAN FOREST, and it’s hard to stand out when so many Black Metal riffs sound similar. ACRIMONIOUS is one of those newcomers onto the scene, however, they’ve already built up a considerable fan following and released three full albums and three EP’s since their formation in 2003. The band is comprised of three members, all from Athens, Greece, and their Facebook reveals an impressive history of live shows all over Europe. Photos from these performances paint Docre, Letifer, and Semjaza as traditional, terrifying, hooded figures in corpse paint shrieking out satanic fury onstage. Just from their online presence, I could tell they are the real deal, or at least, trying their best to be. As a band that’s pretty underground, they’ve managed to get far with amateur marketing and promotion, which is a feat all of its own.

The album kicks off with “Incineration Initiator”, which was an explosion of melancholy, heavily distorted ambient noise over a cut-and-dry Black Metal drumbeat. I loved the suspense built up in the song here before the drums and guitar ripped into full gear, and quite honestly the vocals were on par with those I’ve heard from Black Metal giants like GORGOROTH. “The Northern Portal” introduces the classic, somewhat overused Black Metal blast beat along with Letifer growling threateningly about, you guessed it, Satan. I did like the choppy vocal style he used in this song, as well as the interlocking guitar riffs that tumbled around the percussion. Despite having no technical flaws, I was just hoping for a bit more imagination on the band’s part. A lot of this song sounded like a cheap TAAKE knockoff.

“Damnation’s Bells”, on the other hand, was one of my favorite songs on the album. The guitar riffs were demonic and the drumbeats were absolutely ruthless. Letifer’s insane ravings sounded terrifying, and just added more to the frenetic brutality of this song. The many rhythm changes kept it interesting and new, and brief guitar solo, was so fast it practically flew off the strings. “Satariel’s Grail” almost sounded as though it took a page from old Power Metal riffs during the intro, but soon descended into a gritty, crushing blend of drums and guitar. I have to give it to Letifer, the guy has energy. It’s not easy to sustain the same quality of gravelly vocals for an extended period of time, especially with the force he has. I do think, however, that in order to be noticed, the band has to move away from such traditional Black Metal styles and find their own niche.

“Elder of the Nashiym” opened with a tranquil, resonating guitar riff overlaid with whispered vocals, a new direction for ACRIMONIOUS. When the distorted electric guitar and bass kicked in, I enjoyed the contrast between the dark, heavy riffs and the dreamy intro. The fact that the band can push two polar opposite styles together in a song and make it work is testimony to their musical talent. This song was actually one of my favorites on the entire album. In “Kaivalya”, they implemented a similar technique, using a peaceful acoustic riff to open into the rest of the track. Unlike the previous song, though, this one was completely instrumental, and didn’t explode into distortion until nearly 40 seconds before the end of the song. This was like a little repose in the middle of the album, and felt almost like an intermission before the second half.

“Qayin Rex Mortis” is incredibly heavy. It definitely takes some elements from MAYHEM and DARKTHRONE, however, I think that the swirling rhythms and melodies of the guitars make the song unique. The vocals also have an almost percussive quality and the sinister energy conveyed through them makes the song sound more evil and more musically complete. In “Ominous Visions of Nod”, the track just plunges into five and a half minutes of insanity. The blast beats are ruthless, and the guitar riff chugs along behind everything in a distorted spiral of chaos. When I read that ACRIMONIOUS was into satanic subject matter in their songs, I thought “Yeah, ok, it’s another Black Metal band that likes the devil.” When I read their biography, though, they’re really into Satan. In fact, they’re legitimate Satanists, which might explain why all of their songs feature him, but then again, I don’t judge.

“Stirring the Ancient Waters” begins with a slow, bass-heavy riff which grinds into a blend of growls and a distorted guitar melody. This song was actually another one of my favorites. It was dark and crushing, and predominantly featured flawless Black Metal guitar work. The slower speed also drew the song in a DSBM direction, which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite subgenres of Black Metal. “Litany of Moloch’s Feast” had an eerie and haunting melody that formed the introduction of the song, and which made it stand out from the others on the album. The drums here seemed rather repetitive and simple, though, and I think a mistake that Black Metal bands often make is to think that blast beats are a requirement. They’re not. Even die-hard Black Metal fans like myself get tired of hearing them reused song after song. However, this song was musically solid and the glimmering guitar riffs which cut through the vocals redeeming the track.

The last song, “Thaumitan Crown”, may be one of the heaviest tracks of the whole album. Letifer sounds absolutely malicious here, and it’s frankly terrifying, but in a good way. The aggression in this track was palpable, and the contrast between the slow, muted drums and the tumbling guitar riffs made the song seem like a descent into hell. In conclusion, it’s fairly obvious that ACRIMONIOUS has done their homework in learning how to write and perform technically perfect Black Metal songs. They have true talent, and that manifests itself in their success in Europe and online as a band. Before their next album, though, I’d like to see them try to explore their own identity a bit more and find a sound all of their own in order to give their songs a bit more diversity and variety.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Incineration Initiator
2. The Northern Portal
3. Damnation’s Bells
4. Satariel’s Grail
5. Elder of the Nashiym
6. Kaivalya
7. Qayin Rex Mortis
8. Ominous Visions of Nod
9. Stirring the Ancient Waters
10. Litany of Moloch’s Feast
11. Thaumitan Crown
Lineup:
C. Docre- Drums
Cain Letifer- Guitar, vocals
Semjaza- Guitar, bass
Record Label: World Terror Committee
     


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